Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
Action epic based on the famous heroic exploits of January 22, 1897, when a handful of British soldiers, stationed at Rorke's Drift, withstood an onslaught by some 4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven of the defenders received the Victorio Cross, Britain's highest military decoration.
Filmed in Technirama.
For more about Zulu and the Zulu Blu-ray release, see Zulu Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 6, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson, Michael Caine, James Booth, Nigel Green
Director: Cy Endfield
» See full cast & crew
Zulu Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 6, 2008
A timeless classic that has inspired hordes of dedicated fans Cy Endfield's "Zulu" (1964) arrives on Blu-ray via Paramount Pictures, UK. Boasting a transfer that is as impressive as anything that I have seen being offered on the format this certainly is a release I will be coming back to for years to come. Fans of classic cinema should be particularly happy to see the direction Blu-ray has taken.
Based on a true story (the film is based on an article by John Prebble) Zulu chronicles the deadly clash between 140 British soldiers and more than 4000 Zulu warriors at the desolated Rourke's Drift in South Africa that took place in 1879. In the middle of the story are Lt. John Chard (Stanley Baker), Lt. Gonville Bromhead (Michael Cane), Rev. Otto Witt (Jack Hawkins), Margareta Witt (Ulla Jacobsson), Sgt. Frank Bourne (Nigel Green), and more than a dozen other characters who are faced with possible extermination.
Zulu is a true classic of British cinema. It is filmed with an incredible emphasis on detail and according to many with a sense of finesse that to this day remains unmatched. For the most part I tend to agree. Indeed this is a film that successfully harbors pathos, finesse, and epic panoramic vistas that effectively retell a story of unimaginable proportions. Furthermore, it also feels very modern as it touches upon a number of issues which appear as controversial and divisive as ever.
Even though Zulu isn't a political film its address of British imperialism is quite interesting to analyze. For example, the emotional turmoil the main protagonists undergo during the second half of the film culminates into thoughts about the justification of British presence in South Africa which is a strange angle to detect to say the least. In a film glorifying the stamina and dedication of British soldiers the underlying tones Zulu introduces come as a major surprise.
Furthermore, Zulu effectively addresses the notion of racial superiority as well. Once again, somewhat surprisingly, its approach to it appears to be fairly balanced as it reveals the destructive power of racial hatred from both sides of the fence – seen though the eyes of the British soldiers driven by a higher ideal, de facto a flawed imperialistic dream, and the enraged Zulu warriors whose only effective response is violence. Without reading too much between the lines I find that there is a lot in Zulu that isn't too dated after all.
The incredible cast is another reason why Zulu has achieved such a cult status. A young Michael Caine, Stanley Baker, and Jack Hawkins are very impressive as the characters they portray and undoubtedly a major reason why the film never evolves into a mindless glorifying British supremacy. It is James Booth, however, arguably Zulu's true charmer, whose at times near comedic acting takes a great deal off of the edge the narrative reveals.
Make no mistake however – it is the action that transforms Zulu into a fascinating experience. It is of epic proportions (given the miniscule budget the crew had to work with the results are indeed mind-blowing, even by contemporary standards) and one that I doubt many modern directors are capable of recreating. The breathtaking view of hundreds of Zulu warriors producing a massive thunderous noise with their shields is indeed epic. In fact, I must say that it is what this film will forever be remembered with.
Technically, Zulu is an incredible achievement as well. Steven Dade's cinematography evokes comparisons with the work of Nicolas Roeg and Jack Hildyard, it is both nuanced and moving. In fact, during the second half of the film the large panoramic vistas are amongst the best seen in Classic British cinema. Finally, John Barry's epic soundtrack is as complimenting to the narrative as it is an inseparable part of it. It evokes a sense of elegance and grandeur timeless cinema boasts.
Zulu Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC, and granted a 1080p transfer Zulu arrives on Blu-ray via Paramount Pictures-UK. Well, this print will spur a number of passionate discussions and I predict that there will be some, ironically, paramount exaggerations. Here's why:
First, the transfer Paramount have delivered is stunningly clean and free of blemishes, specks, marks, or debris. I am certainly stunned to see such an incredibly fresh presentation for a film that has received a fair share of questionable SDVD treatments. Second, I see very little grain here. There is some but arguably not as much as I expected to see. Contrast is certainly at a very high level and even during the night scenes there is a great deal of clarity which is flat-out stunning. Third, the color-scheme is absolutely breathtaking. I am unsure how a 44-year old film could reveal such lush colors but take a look at the screen caps and let me know if you think that I might be exaggerating. So, the big question is why would Zulu create a lot of controversy? Because there will be plenty of claims suggesting serious DNR alterations. I personally see a good amount of detail. In fact, this release is an enormous improvement over the SDVD release and in motion the Blu-ray transfer looks incredible to me. (Note: Please note that this is a region-free release which you will be able to play in your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Zulu Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray release: an English Stereo mix with optional English and English SDH subtitles. Here the Blu-ray disc also offers a serious improvement over the SDVD release. The audio is crisp and crystal clear and the dialog in particular very easy to follow. Furthermore, the SDVD offered a somewhat hollow sound (Dolby Digital Mono) which while passable certainly comes short of matching the quality of this Blu-ray disc. In fact, I would argue that this is a totally different audio mix sourced from a different master (in the United States Zulu was released by MGM). A good example of the more potent sound the Paramount release offers is the extended dancing scene from the opening twenty or so minutes right before the announcement for the massacre arrives. The sound coming off of my speakers is fuller and with plenty of oomph I never heard on the SDVD. The actual dialog on the other hand is crystal clear and extremely easy to follow. I personally did not detect any issues to report here. Finally, the optional English subtitles appear in the film frame, they are not split.
Zulu Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
In addition to the original theatrical trailer this Blu-ray disc also offers a very large featurette which has been broken into smaller bits: "The Music of Zulu", "Zulu: Remembering an Epic", "The Making of Zulu: Role of Honor", "The Making of Zulu:…Snappeth the Spear in Sunder". The entire featurette is incredibly informative. From John Barry's comments on the energy and classic spirit of the soundtrack, to the numerous comments addressing the filming style of Cy Endfield produced by the cast and crew to the excellent analysis by film historian Sheldon Hall there really is plenty of information here that should quench your thirst for anything Zulu. I highly recommend that you take the necessary time and watch all of the four segments mentioned above. Finally, the Blu-ray disc also offers a full-blown commentary with Zulu's second unit director Robert Porter and film historian Sheldon Hall. I went through the entire commentary, which is the reason why I could not publish this review immediately after the disc arrived, and indeed this commentary alone is enough of a reason for me to highly recommend this disc. Sheldon Hall provides an excellent deconstruction of the entire film supplanted by plenty of curious details about the history of the film, production, etc. Once again, I strongly recommend that you listen to it as this isn't a standard filler of a commentary as the ones many releases appear to be plagues with, this is indeed an informative analysis with plenty to offer. (Note: You will be able to play all of the extras on your Region-A PS3 or SA without a problem).
Zulu Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A legendary film with a true epic feel Cy Endfield's Zulu arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount Pictures-UK. The transfer is certainly very impressive but will probably prove to be too controversial as I predict that there will be a number of critics on a mission to belittle it. I don't and I would not share such dismissive attitude. In the United States Zulu is yet to be released or announced as upcoming. Given the lack of region-coding this is indeed a disc that I must Highly Recommend.
Zulu: Other Editions
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Zulu. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Zulu in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Zulu Blu-ray, News and Updates
No related news posts for Zulu Blu-ray yet.
Zulu Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Zulu Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Zulu Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.